Bill and Melinda Gates have approached philanthropy with big hearts, tempered by rigorous business analysis.  The foundation is:

  • Focused:
  • Global health, especially for the poorest of the poor
  • Poverty and Development
  • Education and learning, especially in the U.S.
  • Rigorous – Leads the way in ‘Venture Philanthropy’.  It supports new approaches and requires measureable results.  It will try innovative programs and drop failed experiments.
  • Finite –   The resources in the foundation must be spent within 50 years after Bill’s and Melinda’s deaths. In addition, Warren Buffet, the other major donor, has stipulated that the proceeds from the Berkshire Hathaway shares he still owns at death are to be used for philanthropic purposes within 10 years after his estate has been settled.
  • Huge:
  • Total grant commitments since inception: $19.8 billion
  • Total 2008 grant payments: $2.800 billion
  • Endowment: $35.1 billion

Bill Gates has written his first annual letter on the goals, successes and challenges of one of the world’s largest and most generous foundations.

You might also be interested in Bill Gates graduation speech at Harvard Commencement in June of 2007.